News Feature | April 14, 2016

Medtronic Invests In Remote Monitoring, Startup Nabs $7.5M

By Suzanne Hodsden

Foundry Innovation & Research 1 (FIRE1), a company developing remote monitoring technology, closed series B financing with $7.5 million from backers, including Lightstone Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, and Dublin-based Medtronic.  This is the latest in a string of investments Medtronic has made in companies launched by The Foundry, an incubator for medical device startups.

In the 18 years since its inception in 1998, The Foundry has built over ten companies from concept to commercial product launch, seeking internal and external advice from experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Companies launched by The Foundry have gone on to acquisition deals with big names, including Abbott, Stryker, and Medtronic.

Medtronic’s previous investments in technology nurtured by The Foundry include Twelve, a mitral valve replacement device (for $458 million), and Ardian, which developed the Symplicity Catheter System, an experimental treatment for hypertension (for $800 million).

Twelve — acquired  by Medtronic in October — is not available commercially in any country thus far, and Medtronic recently experienced some setbacks in clinical trials seeking to validate Symplicity. A spokesman from Medtronic told the Wall Street Journal that the company has two more trials in the works for Symplicity, and still considers the 2011 deal a “strong strategic acquisition.”

Covidien, whose recent acquisition by Medtronic spurred the company’s relocation to Ireland, participated in series A investment round for FIRE1 in 2014.

“Partnering early with key venture firms and The Foundry gives us unique insight into some of the most innovative, early stage technologies,” said Stacy Enxing Seng, then president of vascular therapies at Covidien.

FIRE1 is based in Dublin, and according to its website, is “focused on developing novel remote monitoring devices” that “improve patient quality of life, and patient outcomes, while lowering overall healthcare costs.”  At this time, the company has not released any specifics about its devices and the needs they target.

In addition to series B financing, FIRE1 also announced the appointment of a senior leadership team.

Foundry Managing Director Mark Deem was appointed chairman of the board at FIRE1, and Conor Hanley, who previously served in several senior positions at ResMed, and as CEO of BiancaMed, will take over as president and CEO of FIRE1. John Britton and Fiachra Sweeney will take over as VP of commercial operations and senior director of engineering, respectively.  Sweeney previously served in product development and engineering roles with Medtronic.

Conor Hanley commented that the investment in FIRE1 highlights global unmet needs in “healthcare delivery, especially in predicting the onset of major disease.”  

“With the support from these premier investors, the strength of our newly expanded leadership team, and the Irish government aggressively pushing the connected health ecosystem, we are in a very strong position to accelerate the development and commercialization of our first product,” said Hanley in a press release.

England’s NHS recently committed $6 billion toward an effort to digitize the UK’s health system and pilot several remote monitoring technologies with British patients, and a British startup recently partnered with a Samsung manufacturer to further develop touchless patient monitoring.

In November, Medtronic launched the world’s first app-based remote monitoring system for pacemakers.